The Author Dr. Ananda Kentish Coomara swamy was born in Kent (England) in 1877. He lost his father when he was just two years old. He obtained B.Sc. in Botany and Geology from Wycliff College, England. He came to Ceylon in 1903 as the Director of Minera logical Survey and got Doctorate while working there. He founded the Ceylon Social Reforms Society and edited the Ceylon National Review, He extended his tours to India to living in an era of new understanding. His Art collections were presented to the Boston Museum in 1917 whereafter he was invited to be the keeper of the Indian Section' where he continued till his death in 1947. He possessed a scientifle turn of mind and a rare insight. His opinions on Indian Art History have been basically accepted in spite of the inadequacy of the evidence then available. A study of his work is essential even today for an insight into the background of Indian Art Rajput Art, in its peculiar forms, is the product of a special inspiration, reflecting the self-control and sweet serenity of Indian life and the aristocratic organization of Indian Society In the fineness of colour brilliangy of brush-work, display of passions and the exhibit of emotions this art stands incomparable Rajput painting (1916) by A.K. Coomara swamy is a pioneer work on Rajput Art pertaining to Hindu painting of Rajputana and the Punjab Himalayas, from 1300 to 1900 A.D. It presents a clear picture of Indian people, their manners, customs, costumes, and their peculiar traits This masterly study indispensable for students of miniature painting has remained long out of print and there has been a persistent demand for its early reprint. The present facsimile reprint, therefore fulfils the long fell needs of the reader Though published in 1916 this book has not become outmoded, still to acquaint the reader with the progress made during the period since its inception. A foreword by Kart J Khandalarola has been appended. The reword offers a sort of reunion with regard to certain classifications of Schools and accurate dating in this field of study and will be welcomed the reader.
Though much useful research has been done in the realm of Indian miniature painting since the days of that incomparable critic of Indian art, Ananda Coomaraswamy, his pioneering efforts were the foundation on which others have built. As most of his works have long been out of print and second-hand copies are rare to come by, it is in the fitness of things that his first notable exposition of Indian miniature painting, published in 1916 in two sumptuous volumes under the title of Rajput Painting, should be made available again in the form of a reprint. To revise a work of such exceptional insight into the Indian mind, with its sensitive exposition of the Indian approach to aesthetics, would be to destroy it. The enterprising publishers Messrs Motilal Banarsidass and the present editor were both in complete agreement that neither Coomaraswamy's text nor his notes on the miniatures should be altered but that a separate Foreword with revis ed notes, to indicate the progress made in the study of Rajput painting, should be included. If Coomaraswamy made mistakes they are those of a pioneer and if he failed to achieve an elaborate classification of schools and sub- schools, such as we have today, it was largely due to the unavail ability of the sources which writers on Indian miniatures are now fortunate to possess. Momentous changes in the political, social and economic structure of this country since 1947 led to an unprecedented flow, from time to time, of Indian miniatures into the art markets of Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Jaipur, Udaipur, Hyderabad and Banaras. Indian miniature paint ing had never been an art of the people for we know that its patronage and possession was by far and large, though with certain notable exceptions, the preserve of the Hindu feudal aristocracy, Muslim Sultans and their governors and the Mughal court and its grandees. Moreover, with the passage of time and the inculcation of new ideas and new tastes, mostly western, large collec tions of paintings in the pothikhanäs (store rooms for manuscripts and pictures) of princes and nobles usually lay neglected and sometimes even unknown. The passing of princely power and pomp in India, occasioned by a new political credo, led aristocratic possessors of collections to part with them. The result was that many of the princely collections, as well as those of lesser chieftains, are now dispersed. When this change came about it was a veritable revelation as to the vast quantities of paintings, particularly of the 18th and 19th centuries, which lay in these collections mostly in the Rajput states of Rajas than, Central India and the Punjab Hills. The reason for this large output will be dealt with later. The dispersal of these paintings, by purchase, into Indian and foreign museums and into Indian and foreign private collections has resulted in a great deal of new light being thrown on the development of Rajput painting and has enabled its study on a more illuminating basis than was ever available to Coomaraswamy during his period of activity in this field. But his inter pretation of Rajput painting, despite certain debatable and even misconceived viewpoints, has yet to be bettered. He possessed the remarkable gift of saying more effectively in a few simple lines what many others sought to express in involved dissertations lacking that clarity and preci sion of language and that economy of words which are so characteristic of his writing on Indian painting and sculpture. but a loosening of the very roots that had sustained an Indian way of life and thought for centu ries. The need of the hour was a cultural renaissance in India and in the sphere of Indian art Ananda Coomaraswamy became its most distinguished torch-bearer. His Rajput Painting un veiled a forgotten world of beauty which had been created in a forgotten span of time. To admire Rajput painting was not enough. No significant art has ever been created in a vacuum. It is the outcome of a cultural synthesis, contemporary with its production, and is the manifestation of the sum total of emotions in which religious beliefs, human and divine love and secular aspira tions have all played their part.
Coomaraswamy regarded Rajput painting as the Hindu painting of Rajputana and the Punjab Himalayas and assigned to it a period beginning from 1500 A.D. to the middle of the 19th century. He employed the term 'Rajput' because all the work was produced under the patronage of Rajput princes. His object was to distinguish it from Mughal painting. The distinction was necessary at the time he wrote, even as it is today, but it would be erroneous to think that these two streams of aesthetic expression pursued their courses in complete isolation. Coomaraswamy was only partially correct when he said that there could scarcely exist two con temporary schools more diverse in temper. He stated that Mughal art is at home in the portfolios of princely connoisseurs but Hindu paintings have stepped from the walls of shrines and palaces and public buildings. But he overlooked the fact that Rajput painting was equally at home in the portfolios of princely patrons and that both in its initial and later development it owed much to Mughal painting. It is not to contradict Coomaraswamy's views, but only to emphasize a stark historical reality, that we are constrained to point out that the development of both Rajas thani and Pahari painting, in the manner and form in which i: took shape, would not have been possible of achievement without the existence and widespread influence of the Mughal school. What other form it may have taken we cannot say and we need not speculate thereon.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend